Mike Chapman was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. He retired from a 35-year newspaper career in 2002 to run theDan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum(I.W.I.M.). He and his wife, Bev, created I.W.I.M. in order to preserve a unique part of world cultural history.
Mike is the author of 19 books, 13 on wrestling. His latest books are “The Life and Legacy of Frank Gotch,” “Achilles: Son of Peleus, Scourge of Troy”, a historical novel about the Trojan War and “Legends of the Mat.”
In 1993, Mike created WIN magazine, the nation’s No. 1 wrestling newspaper. He has since sold it but is still a columnist for the paper. He also created the WIN Memorabilia Show, and the Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation. The Hodge Trophy has been called “the Heisman Trophy of wrestling.”
As a journalist, Mike has met such people as Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Robert Redford and Lou Ferrigno (who played “The Incredible Hulk” on TV). As a sports writer he has attended 35 NCAA Wrestling Championships, two Olympic Games and four world heavyweight boxing championship fights.
Mike has been featured on a number of national TV programs – including ESPN’s “Sports Century,” Fox and Friends, Iowa Public Television, Wisconsin Public Television and the A&E Network. He has been featured in dozens of national magazines and newspapers and has been the guest on over a hundred radio talk shows.
He was on 26 national radio shows the week after Ronald Reagan died in 2004, talking about his historical novel, Lowell Park , which centers around Mr. Reagan’s last year as a lifeguard in Lowell Park, in 1932. The novel is expected to become a major motion picture in 2007.
Mike has won many awards in journalism. He has been named National Wrestling Writer of the Year five times and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 by the Cauliflower Alley Club. It is an organization of former boxers, wrestlers and movie actors. He is a member of four halls of fame, including the AAU National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
As an athlete, Mike participated in wrestling, judo and sombo, as well as bench press contests. He once bench pressed 440 pounds at a bodyweight of 205.
Mike has given speeches on wrestling history to numerous groups for decades.
At the 2007 George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions Chapman was presented with the Jim Melby Award for outstanding work in journalism.
James C. Melby
The inaugural James C. Melby Award was presented to Melby at the 2006 George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame induction banquet on July 15. The award was created to recognize a journalist or historian who has advanced professional wrestling through his or her writing. Melby has been the foremost leader in this area.
While working for Kietzer Publishing, Melby was the editor of “The Wrestling News,” “Wrestling Revue,” “Wrestling Monthly,” and “The Ring’s Wrestling Magazine. Along with Norman Kietzer, he was editor of “Major League Wrestling Programs” for numerous promotions includinig the AWA, WWF, NWA, WWA, Mid South Wrestling, Southwest Championship Wrestling, and numerous independent groups. Melby was also the editor of Verne Gagne’s “Pro Wrestling Report”.
Melby has also authored two books, the first of which is entitled “Mat Wars” and was published in 1985. His most recent work came out this year and is called “Gopherland Grappling: The Early Years”.
“It has always been important to me to apply the high journalistic standards that I had been taught in college,” said Melby after being presented the award. “History is important and should be accurately documented, and once it is committed to print that it belongs to everyone.”
Ted DiBiase, known as the “Million Dollar Man” during his very successful run with the WWF, is the 2007 recipient of the Frank Gotch Award. The award is given annually to a person who has brought prestige and positive recognition to professional wrestling through work outside of the ring.
The son of Mike DiBiase, 2006 hall of famer, and Helen Hild, who also wrestled, Ted began his pro career in 1975. After joining the WWF, he adopted “The Million Dollar Man” persona and wrestled in some of the biggest arenas in the world, including Madison Square Garden, The Superdome, The Skydome, The Tokyo Dome, and Wembly Stadium. A neck injury ended his active career at the end of 1993 and he become a ringside manager and commentator.
Today, Ted is a full time evangelist and motivational speaker and has authored a book about his life entitled “Every Man Has His Price.” Officially ordained into the ministry, he speaks to church congregations, youth groups, men’s meetings, corporate businesses, and in public schools all over the country.
In addition, Ted is also a spokesperson for and board member of “The Sunshine Foundation,” a group that grants wishes to and tries to meet the needs of terminally ill and handicapped children. His impact has extended far beyond the roped ring of wrestling.
Nikita Koloff was born in Minneapolis as Scott Simpson. Young Scott was a weight training fanatic and superb football player at Robbinsdale High School, a Minneapolis suburb. He played college football and was dreaming of an NFL career when injuries sidelined him. Unable to fulfill that dream, he turned again to weights and became an obsessive trainer, putting in extremely long hours at the gym. His freindship with wrestler Road Warrior Animal took him to Atlanta, where he was introduced to professional wrestling.
Changing his name to Nikita Koloff and acting as the nephew of Ivan Koloff, Scott took on on a whole new persona. He entered the NWA and became a star, then moved over to the WCW and became an even bigger star. Eventually, he went from villain to hero, teaming with Dusty Rhodes, “The American Dream,” to become a super patriot and a super star. He won many titles along the way.
Koloff retired from the grind of professional wrestling in 1992 and began giving back to his fans in a variety of ways. A devout Christian, Nikita and his wife, Victoria, live in Concord, NC.
“Nikita is as much a champion in the service of other as he was in the ring,” said Bill Murdock, a museum board member who is executive director of Eblen Charities in Asheville, NC. The Eblen Charities is a not-for-profit business that helps families that are battlilng illnesses and disabilities.
“He gives support to the Eblen Charities,” said Murdock. “His outreach is worldwide, he does charitable work in Africa and other countries. He gives his time to motivating others, living a Christian life and talking about character and development.
“He has provided help in building churches and other worthwhile organizations. The Eblen Charities would not be where it is without the help of people like Nikita.”